The trail levelled and my watch insistently warned me of a deviation from the specified heart rate zone, the delayed reaction of technology catching up with the noticeable beating from my chest. I admonished myself angrily, what was I doing? Why the hell had I pushed hard like that? This was meant to be a recovery run, entirely fuelled by my aerobic system, minimal effort and an opportunity for my muscles to actively recover from the previous day's intervals hell.
Recovering my composure and dropping the effort allowed time to analyse my bizarre reaction to being observed. It certainly wasn't a primal, alpha male mating call. I wasn't showing off my running capabilities as a weak effort at being attractive. In many ways I wish it had been, at least that could be excused as a natural process, driven by the evolutionary requirement to attract the opposite sex, to secure a mate and guarantee the survival of the species. Sadly it was something much cheaper, dirtier and indicative of an inherent lack of maturity, I'd accelerated past the walker because of ego.
These days I'd like to think I'm not massively egotistical. I certainly used to be, breezing through my mid-twenties on a wave of financial and sporting success whilst located in the South of England where brash overconfidence is lauded, made it an inevitability. Since then, a decade in Ireland has mellowed me. The Irish have a mistrust of success to some degree and whilst they're still quick to congratulate, they're even quicker to ensure that nobody is allowed to take themselves too seriously, cutting egos down to size before they begin to grow and mutate. I've embraced this mindset wholeheartedly, preferring to seek self-satisfaction over external admiration to the extent that I'm a bit embarrassed by praise, but on occasions that egotistical side can still fight through and become the dominant force again.
|Winning breeds confidence, confidence breeds ego, ego breeds expectation and expectation breeds the fear!|
I'll rarely start a race unless I feel in peak condition because my ego won't allow me to lose. I'll dig deeper, hurt more and grind out results rather than admit defeat. And so I usually expect to win, but expectation can only bring disappointment as victories are anticipated and defeats are doubly gutting. As a result I've probably missed out on some wonderful experiences and also probably further success because I was unwilling to take part for fear of losing. This is ego and ego breeds the fear.
Often the races that I enjoy the most are the ones with no expectations, ones where I flog myself to death with no possibility of winning. This season has seen me virtually undefeated but my favourite race was the Worlds where my body fell apart and I fought beyond the pain to just dip into the top forty. For once I was the runner crossing the line way down the field, the relief of finishing far overriding any egotistical need to excel. Perhaps I should only do International standard races?!
|Shattered and satisfied despite defeat, the Worlds is no place for ego|
I'm hugely annoyed at myself for the frivolity of my actions. Why would I care if someone saw me running slowly? Why didn't I have the maturity to just maintain the correct outputs, keep the legs turning over and the heart in the right zone? Why, at 38 do I still feel the need to prove myself to total strangers who don't give a damn whether I can run fast up a hill? The power of egotism is strong and to maximise recovery, appreciate the truly important facets of life, avoid injury and guarantee my long term participation in the sport I love I need to keep taming its urges.
I'll think back to this blog next time I round that corner, and then probably still kick on regardless!